Buying a new RV? The lowest price isn’t always the best buy


By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service

We recently installed a second air conditioner on a new fifth wheel. During our conversation, the owner advised us he had paid nearly $8,000 less than the best price he could get at a local dealership, by buying instead from one 300 miles away. He went on to say the local dealership told him if he bought the same model they carried from someone else, it most likely would take them three to six months to take care of any warranty service he might require.

Buying a new RV? The lowest price isn't always the best buy

Did he save money? Obviously he saved on the purchase price. But what about warranty coverage? Many folks are under the impression that the RV’s manufacturer would force the dealership to provide the service. But in cases like this, dealerships are not refusing to provide service — they’re simply putting their own customers first and, at least currently, there is plenty of service work, so making “Joe-who-bought-from-somebody else” wait is not a difficult thing to do.

I have often written about this topic. The reasoning goes this way: Warranty work is covered in the purchase price. The reimbursement rate for warranty coverage from manufacturers is ridiculously low, given the paperwork and shipping that is required and then adding in the wait for reimbursement. Simply put, many service centers, dealerships and independent technicians will only warranty what they sell.

Buying at the cheapest price doesn’t always end up being less expensive. If your rig never needs warranty coverage, it turns out well. If it does require warranty work, don’t expect to move to the head of the line at many dealerships. How much the wait is worth is up to you.

Still think the manufacturer can force a dealership to provide service? Consider the increasing number of multi-site dealerships and the amount they represent in profit to a manufacturer. Do you really think you, the customer, hold the upper hand?